King Mzilikazi Khumalo left Zululand in 1822 and by 1840 had established the Ndebele state in southwestern Zimbabwe. While preserving their language and “Zulu-identity”, the Ndebele people expanded through the incorporation of many other peoples. The state was a multi-ethnic, complex society.


Old Bulawayo was established by King Lobengula as his capital in 1870 after the death of his father King Mzilikazi in 1868. It’s layout to an extent reflects the complex heritage of the Ndebele people.

In 1881, after 11 years of occupation, Lobengula moved his capital to what is now the modern city of Bulawayo. He ordered the destruction of the old settlement by fire.

In 1990, National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe identified koBulawayo as suitable as an educational and tourist centre. In 1998 it was reconstructed as a theme park. Structures such as a wagonshed, the outer palisade, King Lobengula’s palace, 8 beehive huts and cattle kraal, as well as a nearby interpretive centre were constructed.

Unfortunately in August 2010, a serious bush fire sweep through the site, destroying much of what had been rebuilt. Only the Interpretive Centre survived unscathed. Efforts are currently underway to reconstruct the site.[1]


  1. [1], Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe, Accessed: 9 December, 2020